Universal Access To All Knowledge
Home Donate | Store | Blog | FAQ | Jobs | Volunteer Positions | Contact | Bios | Forums | Projects | Terms, Privacy, & Copyright
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload

Reply to this post | Go Back
View Post [edit]

Poster: light into ashes Date: Sep 3, 2008 4:15am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: The Brief Tale of Mountains of the Moon

Aoxomoxoa marked the first big songwriting boom of Hunter & Garcia. Hunter had started writing for the Dead in late '67 (Dark Star, Alligator, China Cat), but Anthem of the Sun turned out to be very much a 'group' album, with contributions from all over the place. But through 1968, Hunter and Garcia kept writing songs together, enough to fill their next (short) album. Aoxomoxoa was another change of direction for the Dead - not so thoroughly psychedelic or full of jamming this time, here poppy tunes and weirdness rubbed side by side in songs that offered a variety of styles.
For the most part though, they weren't songs that would last long in the Dead's set - though everything was played at least once, few of the tunes would survive '69. Cosmic Charlie would linger into 1970, St Stephen lasted to 1971, and China Cat made it all the way to 1974....each of them would be picked up again later on as the band found reasons to try them again, but Garcia was generally not too happy with his early songs. Hunter was practicing bizarre poetic lyrics at the time, obscure and trippy, which Garcia would claim were "too far-out, really, for most people"; Garcia in this period was having fun composing tricky, complicated music, but later on he complained that songs like St Stephen and Cosmic Charlie were too difficult to play. (China Cat, the big success story among this group of songs, he called "marginal".)
Garcia said of Mountains of the Moon that it was "one of my favorite ones. I thought it came off like a little gem" - and years later, "That song turned out nicely. I had an acoustic setting in mind from the get-go and it turned out pretty much how I envisioned it. I don't know what made me think I could do a song like that.... I like the tune a lot." Yet it wasn't played very often - we only have thirteen performances. (The Dead never revived it either, though Hunter hoped they would, and even Constanten did a cover.)
It's a simple enough tune, and with its acoustic arrangement is a precursor to the more folky tunes the Dead started doing in mid-'69 - which is exactly when the Dead dropped it. (On 6/7 it rubs shoulders with the first Dire Wolf, and on 7/12 it follows country covers of Green Grass of Home and Slewfoot.) Possibly Garcia was more excited by the new material. The lyrics don't make much sense (Hunter says he was rushed) -
http://arts.ucsc.edu/GDead/aGDL/moon.html
Mountains seems like Hunter was trying to recapture the ancient mystery of old folk songs, and with the simple guitar picking and Constanten's harpsichord-like accompaniment it sounds like it could have come out of some English renaissance court. I like Lesh's bass line, which even in live shows imitates an upright acoustic bass sound and gives the song more depth; he didn't often have such a quiet setting to work in. Mountains was always a welcome appearance when it was played - a brief mystical acoustic respite from the "sweat and steam and uproar and tumult" that made up an early-'69 Dead show.
There are a couple outtakes (or alternate mixes) of Mountains from the Aoxomoxoa sessions - they sound pretty much identical to the album version.
http://www.archive.org/details/gd69-xx-xx.sbd.dodd.16760.sbeok.shnf

The first live version we have is from 12/20/68 (a very hissy tape): the Dead abandon a snappy Eleven mid-jam for some reason and Garcia immediately gets out his acoustic to treat the bewildered audience to a new song. (Somewhat like the one-time Rosemary of 12/7/68.) Mountains is more jaunty than it would be next year, and Garcia isn't fully practiced with it yet, stumbling at one point with the guitar, but he gives a nice little acoustic solo at the end.
http://www.archive.org/details/gd1968-12-20.sbd.miller.89663.sbeok.flac16

Mountains pops up again a month later, at the Playboy After Dark TV session on 1/18/69 (though not broadcast until 7/10, after Aoxomoxoa had been released). It's interesting that of all the new songs, this is the one Garcia wants to play first - in fact, he's beaming, probably quite high. The song is smoother now, and Constanten's playing dominates this version. (Weir is playing as well, but inaudible I think; he always stayed on electric and turned down very low for this song, so his fills are often hard to hear. Depending on the mix, Constanten is frequently inaudible as well.) The TV editors obviously found this tune the most accessible, as they left it complete but snipped up the St Stephen and following jam.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVqArOogY-c

Although other new songs (Dupree's, Doin' that Rag, Cosmic Charlie) were debuted early on in the January '69 shows, we don't have another live Mountains until 2/11/69, but already it's found a definite place in the set. It always follows Dupree's Diamond Blues - probably because they were the two acoustic songs, so it made sense to play them together. And always until April, it segues into Dark Star. This became one of the ideal Dead song pairings, the reflective mystery of Mountains hushing the atmosphere and opening up to the interstellar quest of Dark Star - in the Mountains outro, after his wiry acoustic solo Garcia would switch back to electric guitar while the rest of the band kept playing, and after a few electric licks they would start Dark Star. The transition was never very long though - Lesh or Garcia would always be in a hurry to start Dark Star, so the Mountains jam is never more than a couple minutes. But it seems to me more than a coincidence that some of the best Stars of the year come out of Mountains.

On 2/11/69 there's a very short segue, they go into Dark Star as soon as Garcia's switched guitars. This show was a strange selection for release; since the Dead had to finish their sets in an hour, they seem to abbreviate the Dark Star, which is a very short, tame version for the time as they rush through the themes. It would be nice to hear the rest of 2/12 to see how it compares.
Again on 2/15/69 there isn't much of a jam out of Mountains, they go straight into Dark Star which is pretty low-key. Garcia stops playing for several minutes in the middle (perhaps having amp trouble), so it's interesting to hear Lesh & Weir jamming the Dark Star by themselves.
http://www.archive.org/details/gd69-02-15.sbd.winters.16664.sbeok.shnf

2/22/69 is a great show, probably the best of February (after 2/28). The Mountains transition is better this time, still short but it has that 'questing' feel familiar from Live Dead; the Dark Star is dreamy and mesmerizing, with a rare segue into Cryptical, and the rest of the show is just as good.
http://www.archive.org/details/gd69-02-22.sbd.owen.7860.sbeok.shnf

2/27/69 of course is famous for the elegant Live-Dead Dark Star. They could have opened the record with the Star riff, but decided to start a little sooner, fading in as the band wanders gently out of Mountains and Lesh opens up the door to Dark Star. Many of the best moments of their shows came 'in-between' songs as they kept playing with no particular direction, just freely improvising to see what turned up; it's fitting that their first live album would start with one of those moments. The next Mountains, on 3/1/69 would be quite different as there is no segue - they stop for a break while Garcia switches guitars.

They apparently didn't play any more Mountains during March, but it shows up again on 4/5/69, with a very nice acoustic solo and a short electric segue into a super-magical Dark Star. By now they're starting to rely less on repeated themes in the Dark Star, there's more 'free' jamming, and they're getting closer to the 'space' section that they'd later use after the verse.
http://www.archive.org/details/gd69-04-05.sbd.miller.18701.sbesok.shnf

4/22/69 has the best transition into Dark Star; Garcia's electric solo continues his acoustic thought and the band jams for a minute, already in a Dark Star space. The Star is dense and magnificent, the most expansive of that spring.
http://www.archive.org/details/gd69-04-22.sbd.clugston.68.sbeok.shnf

4/26/69 is an unusual show, starting with four Aoxomoxoa songs in a row. There's a great transition jam out of Mountains, the longest yet. Garcia decides to take it into a raucous China Cat; Dark Star would be deferred until the great version the next night. (Dick's Picks 26)

The Mountains on 6/7/69 has a nice acoustic solo, but no electric jam at all, going straight into a strong, slowly building Dark Star.
http://www.archive.org/details/gd69-06-07.sbd.kaplan.9074.sbeok.shnf

At one show, 4/20/69, Mountains was played by itself - oddly, as the acoustic encore (with Dupree's, of course) - the brief acoustic solo ended the show.
http://www.archive.org/details/gd69-04-20.sbd.lutch.4992.sbeok.shnf

They probably played Mountains some more that summer, but the last performance we have is from 7/12/69, in an extremely poor-sounding tape. The audience claps when it starts - Aoxomoxoa has come out so they've heard it on the new Dead album! It's an unusual version in that, after a long acoustic jam, Garcia reprises the song, stretching it to nine minutes. This would probably be the most trancelike Mountains if it were in better quality - showing how it might have developed if they'd opened it up a bit more.
http://www.archive.org/details/gd69-07-12.sbd-aud.hanno.4645.sbeok.shnf

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: elbow1126 Date: Sep 3, 2008 6:20am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Brief Tale of Mountains of the Moon

Another fantastic history lesson, thank you. On the occasions when I have to work late, I often listen to the MOTM through the transition and opening notes of DS from that 2-27 show as I walk to my car. Great stuff.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: William Tell Date: Sep 3, 2008 7:37am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Brief Tale of Mountains of the Moon

Outstanding work again, LiA!

Yep, I often pull out a Feb or Apr 69 show for this segue alone.

Always one of my favs.

Arb and I have often spoken of 4-5-69 as magical. Will have to grab that 4-22 one for comparison...

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: staggerleib Date: Sep 3, 2008 5:12am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Brief Tale of Mountains of the Moon

Thank you for this. What a detailed and interesting review of an underplayed, and for me at least, very appreciated song.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: tree-ap Date: Sep 3, 2008 6:13am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Brief Tale of Mountains of the Moon

Here's yet another song that would've/could've been great had it been exummed for the acoustic shows in '80. I've said beore about how I'd like to have heard some of their '68 & '69 work done in '73-'74, especially before the hiatus. Something about the quality of the sound system used then, coupled with what are many heads most loved songs, would've been great to hear. Imagine Doin' That Rag with the Wall of Sound behind them? Something about Wolf's sound during this period is something that grabbed ahold of me a long time ago & has yet to let go---it would've lent itself very well to this song. MOTM, like China Doll done acoustically, could've been arranged to accomodate electric intruments, and could've again segued into DS---with magical results.

I guess this is just one man's opinion, but I'm still thankful for what was performed, and the high level to which they were played.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: spring mountain high Date: Sep 3, 2008 7:35am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Brief Tale of Mountains of the Moon

fantastic post...makes me want to revisit these performances...thanks for taking the time to work that up

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: hippie64 Date: Aug 23, 2009 9:28am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Brief Tale of Mountains of the Moon

Very consise Thank you for sharing that post by LiA tells me most all I need to know about Spring 69 and the history behind Mountians >DS.
Proved to me over agian that Jerry was the greatest. Clapton,Page, Hendrix, Beck ,Townshend,Knopfler,Satriani Nobody could color the pallet like Garcia.
Each has their distinct fingerprint , But none had the ability to paint the ether around us as could Jerry.
Can't wait to find more about this Planet Dead.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: dilcurrie Date: Aug 23, 2009 10:12am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Brief Tale of Mountains of the Moon

Planet dead is a wierd and wonderful place - did you check out:

http://arts.ucsc.edu/gdead/agdl/

a good source of interesting facts about the grateful dead songs, even if they didn't ever publish my assertion that the reason the grateful dead didnt play mexicali blues in bakersfield is its the one place that by definition in the world isnt 3 days ride from bakersfield!

As for Garcia being the best guitarist ever... you won't find me disagreeing, although there probably are many better ones techinically, such as the guys you mention, or others such Zappa or john Bridger or hell we can all name better guitarists, and classic rock didnt even put him in their top 100 guitarists:

http://www.classicrockmagazine.com/news/the-new-issue-of-classic-rock-goes-on-sale-today/#more-21647

What he did have were the flaws in both his singing and playing that made him unique and a humanity and humility lacking in most. And the ability to stop whether in a note or in a moment of silence and make it seem like eternity

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: hippie64 Date: Aug 23, 2009 11:22am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Brief Tale of Mountains of the Moon

Damn the technicalities Full speed ahead !

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: craven714 Date: Sep 3, 2008 7:53am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Brief Tale of Mountains of the Moon

thanks
your post blew my mind:
my mind is blown...........

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: secret8476 Date: Sep 3, 2008 10:52am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Brief Tale of Mountains of the Moon

That really was one of my favorite posts you have done so far - and i thought your Viola Lee post was outstanding.
Thank you for the snapshots from the past. I love the mansion video.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: bluedevil Date: Sep 3, 2008 11:40am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Brief Tale of Mountains of the Moon

I bookmark all these posts so I can do them justice later by coming back and listening and reading - I'm behind, but truly appreciate the effort.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: spacedface Date: Sep 3, 2008 11:57am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Brief Tale of Mountains of the Moon

Yes, thank you.

A bonus was the late '07 Charlie Miller version of 4-22-69.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: Crazy Chester Date: Sep 3, 2008 5:41am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Brief Tale of Mountains of the Moon

Great post and VERY interesting Thank you! Hey, I noticed that while watching the St. Stephen at Hef's mansion that they changed a lyric from talk about your "pills" to "yeilds" (possibly) kinda inaudable but do you think that was the intention or at the request of the TV station,Hef or the band? Just curious.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: snore Date: Sep 3, 2008 5:31am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Brief Tale of Mountains of the Moon

Nice work, indeed. I find the lyrics fascinating, I guess because there is such an English connection. 'Folderolderiddle' echoes old English folk songs, and 'Marsh King's daughter' has something to do with our King Alfred ('the Great').
I think playing it just before, and leading into Dark Star was a stroke of genius, the lyrics and music make the crowd listen closer and prime them for the Big One.

Terms of Use (10 Mar 2001)